The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form
Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour
Learning from Las Vegas created a healthy controversy on its appearance in 1972, calling for architects to be more receptive to the tastes and values of “common” people and less immodest in their erections of “heroic,” self-aggrandizing monuments.
This revision includes the full texts of Part I of the original, on the Las Vegas strip, and Part II, “Ugly and Ordinary Architecture, or the Decorated Shed,” a generalization from the findings of the first part on symbolism in architecture and the iconography of urban sprawl. (The final part of the first edition, on the architectural work of the firm Venturi and Rauch, is not included in the revision.) The new paperback edition has a smaller format, fewer pictures, and a considerably lower price than the original. There are an added preface by Scott Brown and a bibliography of writings by the members of Venturi and Rauch and about the firm’s work.
Denise Scott Brown, in the video above (at 8:15): “Basically, if everyone is striving to be revolutionary, you will be really revolutionary if you try to be ordinary.”
Life on the deserts sands, a man-made oasis of the mind as much as land. Ziggy Stardust Memories, gigantic hotel logos floating in the night sky. Sprawl becomes epic, the decorated shed monumental. For all its many faults, Las Vegas is a potent dream, an electronic foliage spreading a mirage of shade over the gila monsters, mobsters and imported lobsters. From there, it moved out over the land and mindscape, to concert halls and minimalls, invading the collective subconscious or civic life the world over, but especially in its birthplace: America. Americana.